Opinion

JOAN VENNOCHI

Why is Biden urging Romney to run for the Senate?

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 file photo, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney talks with reporters in New York. Former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden is encouraging former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to run for a senate seat in Utah currently held by Orrin Hatch if the senator decides to retire next year. Biden made the comment to Romney Friday, June 9, 2017 at a luxury resort in Utah, where Romney was hosting an annual invitation-only business and politics summit.. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Evan Vucci/Associated Press/File

Mitt Romney in November 2016.

MITT ROMNEY, have you no shame?

Silly question, I know — followed by a serious one.

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Why is Joe Biden urging Romney to run for a Senate seat?

Romney’s last big public exposure featured frog legs and mortification, compliments of the president-elect, who subsequently chose someone else for the job Romney wanted — secretary of state. Now, Mother Jones reports that Romney sent out a fundraising e-mail on behalf of Republican Karen Handel, who is running against Democrat Jon Ossoff in a special congressional election in Georgia that is viewed as a high-stakes test of strength for the president and policies like Trumpcare. Democrats view the race “as their first chance to strike a blow to Donald Trump’s presidency and our conservative values,” wrote Romney, coming down firmly on the side of the man he once called a “fraud” and a “con” and who then humiliated him.

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Asking Georgia voters to win this one for Trump is more evidence of Romney’s inability to pick a principle on anything or anyone and stick with it. During the 2016 campaign, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee warned voters that Trump policies would destroy the country’s economy and standing in the world. He also called out Trump for “the bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade qualities.”

Still, Romney came crawling back after this scathing critique, for a shot at being Trump’s secretary of state. His quest ended so badly that it made even some veteran Romney critics feel sorry for him.

But it didn’t stop Romney from throwing kind words Trump’s way, saying in February the new president was off to “a strong start.” Because he looks like a grown-up next to Trump, some Democrats see Romney as a leader, so much so that Biden recently told him he should run for the Senate.

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Why? Romney’s not rooting for any Democrat to win, so why should a Democrat be rooting for Romney? If the theory is that he will be a voice of courage in the Senate, there’s little to back it up. Unlike Ohio Governor John Kasich, Romney has not spoken out against the Affordable Health Care Act, which passed in the House and is being reworked, in secret, in the Senate. And Romney has good reason to take a stand against so-called Trumpcare and to demand more transparency and protection for Americans. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a first in the nation health care reform law that provided the conceptual foundation for Obamacare. At the time, he said he was committed to expanding health insurance protection for everyone, and worked with Democrats to make it happen. Trumpcare shrinks health insurance protection, and Democrats in Congress oppose it.

Of course, Romney is not the only Republican to take abuse from Trump, the candidate, and then sidle up to Trump, the president. On the campaign trail, Trump verbally brutalized rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Once Trump won the presidency, both senators put those personal insults behind them. But they hold elective office, and think they need Trump and his base.

Romney, who holds no office, could be a completely independent player who can say what he really thinks about Trump, like he did when he called him out during the campaign. Why should he feel any need to curry favor with Trump or the GOP base unless he hasn’t given up hope of another White House run?

And why should any Democrat feel the need to curry favor with Romney? Romney’s turnabout on Trump when it seemed like there might be a Cabinet position in the offing should tell everyone, including Biden, what they need to know about him. His call to protect and preserve the Trump agenda, via his recent fundraising pitch, is more proof that Romney is not the answer to any Democrat prayers.

Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.
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